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BALFOUR, James Charles Murray (1914-1990)

James Balfour, c1965.

James Balfour, c1965.

BALFOUR, Hon James Charles Murray CBE (1914-1990)

The Hon. James Charles Murray Balfour CBE, member of parliament and dairy farmer was born at Windsor, Victoria on 30 September 1914 and raised in a family with a long tradition of public service.

His parents were James Miller Balfour and Katherine Elizabeth nee Murray. A great-uncle had been a Member of the Legislative Council, and his maternal grandfather was a senior Victorian Public Servant. James Miller Balfour, a Commonwealth public servant, served on the Central Wool Committee during the 1914-18 War and in later years became Chairman of the Dried Fruits Board. He was Vice Chairman of the Geelong College Council. In 1936 he was elected to represent the Gippsland Province in the Legislative Council and remained a Member of Parliament until his death in 1943.

JCM Balfour attended Haileybury College, but in 1928 became a boarder at the Geelong College where he was a member of the Athletics Team in 1928 and 1930. He left at the end of his Form V year in 1931. After leaving school he lived at Willow Grove in Gippsland, where he became a dairy farmer.

In 1946 he became actively interested in public affairs when he was elected to the Narracan Shire Council. Although his father had been a member of the Country Party, JCM Balfour contested the Morwell District as a Liberal and Country Party candidate at the Legislative Assembly elections in 1955. Friction within the Labor Party and a consequent divided vote enabled him to win this former Labor stronghold. In 1958 he became Government Whip and in 1961 Parliamentary Secretary of the Cabinet until 1964. Following the Death of W J Mibus (Minister for Water Supply) JCM Balfour briefly became Minister of Water Supply and Minister of Mines (April to July 1964) before being appointed by then Premier, Henry Bolte, Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey, President of the Board of Land and Works, Minister of Soldier Settlement and Minister for Conservation on 8th July 1964. From July 1964 to May 1967, he was Minister of Lands, of Soldier Settlement and of Conservation. From May 1967 to September 1977, he was Minister of Fuel and Power and of Mines. From September 1977 to February 1981, he was Minister of Minerals and Energy. He resigned from the Ministry in 1981. He was a member of the State Development Committee from 1955 to 1961 and he was a member of the Victorian State Cabinet from 1961 to 1981.

Other Committees and Boards included:
Willow Grove Primary School correspondent, Willow Grove Hall Committee, Willow Grove Recreation Ground Committee, Chairman Upper Latrobe River Drainage Scheme, Moe High School Advisory Committee, Yallourn High School Council, Captain of the Willow Grove Fire Brigade, Trafalgar High School Council, Chairman of the Baw Baw Alpine Reserve Management Committee 1960 – 1990. Central Gippsland Regional TAFE Board 1982-1990, Narracan Shire Councillor 1946 – 1967, President 1946-1947, 1950-1951, 1960-1961.

He was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1981 for his long-term services to the Local and Victorian Community.

Retired from Parliament in February 1982. Passed away on 19 May 1990.

Sources: G. Balfour January 2022, L G Houston. Ministers of Water Supply in Victoria p 91, Parliament of Victoria – re-member. A database of all Victorian MPs since 1851, 28 June 2004
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