Clyde Holding

The Honourable
Clyde Holding
Member of the Victorian Parliament
for Richmond
In office
May 1962  November 1977
Preceded by Bill Towers
Succeeded by Theo Sidiropoulos
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Melbourne Ports
In office
10 December 1977  31 August 1998
Preceded by Frank Crean
Succeeded by Michael Danby
Personal details
Born (1931-04-27)27 April 1931
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died 31 July 2011(2011-07-31) (aged 80)
Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Margaret Sheer (divorced)
Judith Crump
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Occupation Lawyer

Allan Clyde Holding (27 April 1931  31 July 2011)[1] Australian politician, was Leader of the Opposition in Victoria for ten years, and was later a federal minister.

Early life and education

Holding was born in Melbourne and educated at Trinity Grammar School, Victoria and the University of Melbourne, where he graduated in law.

Early politics

Holding joined the Australian Labor Party as a student, and during the Labor Party split of 1954–55, during which he supported the party's federal leader, Dr H.V. Evatt, he was Secretary of the Young Labor organisation in Victoria.[2][3] As a young lawyer he was a prominent campaigner against the death penalty and in favour of the rights of indigenous Australians. His law firm, Holding, Ryan and Redlich, became one of the leading industrial law firms in Melbourne.

State politics

In 1962 Holding was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Richmond,[2] which had previously been held for many years by mostly conservative Catholic Labor Party members, although his immediate predecessor, Frank Crean, was a Presbyterian. Clive Stoneham, who had been ALP leader from 1958 onwards, was no match for the dominant Liberal Premier, Sir Henry Bolte. After Labor suffered its fifth consecutive defeat at the 1967 election, Holding took over from Stoneham as party leader.[2]

Although Holding was in some ways a social radical, he was opposed to the left-wing faction which had taken control of the Victorian Labor Party following the 1955 split, which had seen many right-wing members expelled. In particular, he supported government aid for non-government, including Catholic, schools, which the left bitterly opposed. He was a supporter of the reforming federal Labor leader, Gough Whitlam, who was determined to reform the Victorian branch as a precondition of winning a federal election. He was also a close ally of the ACTU president, Bob Hawke.

During the 1970 state election campaign, which some commentators suggested Labor could win as a result of voter fatigue with the Liberals after their 15 years in power, Holding campaigned on the new federal policy of supporting state aid to non-government schools. The week before the election, the left-wing state president, George Crawford and state secretary, Bill Hartley, issued a statement saying that a Victorian Labor government would not support state aid. As a result, Whitlam refused to campaign for Labor in Victoria, and Holding was forced to repudiate his own policy. Faced with evidence of Labor disunity, the voters re-elected the Bolte government.

This episode led directly to federal intervention in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party. In 1971 the left-wing leadership was overturned by the National Executive and allies of Whitlam, Hawke and Holding took control. The left then formed an organised faction, the Socialist Left, to agitate for socialist policies, supported by some unions. This continuing conflict in the party made it difficult for Holding to oppose the Liberal government effectively. The surge in support for federal Labor which saw Whitlam elected Prime Minister in 1972 was not reflected in Victorian state politics. Bolte retired in 1972, and his successor, Dick Hamer, comfortably won the 1973 and 1976 state elections.

Federal politics

Holding resigned as Opposition Leader after the 1976 election to transfer to federal politics. In 1977 he was elected to the House of Representatives for the comfortably safe seat of Melbourne Ports,[3] which then included Holding's base in Richmond. He defeated Simon Crean, son of Holding's predecessor, Frank Crean, to win Labor pre-selection. After the 1980 election, at which Hawke was elected to federal Parliament, Holding emerged as Hawke's key "numbers man" in his campaign to become leader of the federal Labor Party.


When Hawke was elected Prime Minister at the 1983 election, he insisted that Holding be included in the ministry, and gave him the difficult but symbolically important portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs.[3] Holding was a strong supporter of land rights for Indigenous Australians, and his main ambition as minister was to bring in legislation for uniform national land rights, which the 1967 amendment to the Australian Constitution would have permitted. But the Labor Premier of Western Australia, Brian Burke, strongly objected to such a step, which would have upset the powerful mining and pastoral industries in his state. After heavy lobbying from Burke, Hawke pressured Holding to drop the proposal.

In 1987 Holding was shifted to the portfolio of Minister for Employment Services and Youth Affairs. In 1988 he became Minister for Transport and Communications Support. A few months later he was promoted to Cabinet and made Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs, but later in the year there was another reshuffle and he was demoted to the Arts and Territories portfolio, outside Cabinet. He held this post until the 1990 election, when he was dropped from the ministry.


Melbourne Ports was significantly altered ahead of the 1990 election. Long one of the safest Labor seats in the nation, it was pushed slightly to the east to take in some wealthier, Liberal-leaning suburbs. This knocked Holding's majority from a reasonably safe 9.9 percent to a marginal 3.9 percent. Nonetheless, Holding was reelected with a small swing against him. He remained in the House as a backbencher until his retirement in 1998.[3]


  1. Franklin, Matthew (2 August 2011). "Clyde Holding, 'leader of integrity', dies at 80". The Australian. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 "Holding, (Allan) Clyde". re-member. Parliament of Victoria. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Biography for Holding, the Hon. Allan Clyde". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Bill Towers
Member for Richmond
Succeeded by
Theo Sidiropoulos
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Frank Crean
Member for Melbourne Ports
Succeeded by
Michael Danby
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Wilson
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Succeeded by
Gerry Hand
Preceded by
Ralph Willis
Minister for Employment Services and Youth Affairs
Succeeded by
Peter Duncan
Preceded by
Peter Duncan
Minister for Transport and Communications Support
Succeeded by
Peter Morris
Preceded by
Mick Young
Minister for Immigration, Local
and Ethnic Affairs

Succeeded by
Robert Ray (immigration)
Margaret Reynolds (local government)
Preceded by
John Brown
Minister for the Arts and Territories
Succeeded by
David Simmons
Party political offices
Preceded by
Clive Stoneham
Leader of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria
Succeeded by
Frank Wilkes
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