In the belief that Australian family life ought to be strengthened and supported for the sake of the nation – and having no living relatives – King and Amy O’Malley instructed in their wills that their estates be used for Home Economics scholarships.
King O’Malley was a member of the first Federal Parliament of 1901. He outlived all the other members of that Parliament, dying in 1953. He has been variously described as ‘a man of the people’, ‘a great wit – he could see the funny side of almost anything’, ‘picturesque in speech (with his North American accent) and appearance’ and ‘an astute politician’.
During his lively and controversial political career, O’Malley demonstrated a number of significant characteristics. He was a:
- visionary: his vision for Australia included the establishment of a bank for the people (the Commonwealth Bank), the Transcontinental Railway, planning the city of Canberra and originating the idea of Australia House in London
- leader: in church activities, as organiser of a design competition for the national capital and as a Cabinet Minister
- social reformer: believing strongly in women’s rights, fighting for the introduction of old-age pensions and expressing concern about the negative influences of alcohol on home and family life
- strategist: always having carefully thought-out plans for a range of possible outcomes (such as urging the adoption of a standard railway gauge), he believed that obstacles were made to be surmounted.
Amy O’Malley played a less public role but was a strong and intelligent person who supported the belief that a satisfying family life was crucial to the welfare of the nation; and that itcould not be achieved without effective management of the home.
In their last wills executed in February 1952, King and Amy O’Malley directed that the capital and accumulated interest from their estates be used to establish the King & Amy O’Malley Trust Fund. The trust was to provide Home Economics scholarships to scholars from all states and the Australian Capital Territory. In 1984, the Victorian Supreme Court determined a scheme of administration for the trust fund, to be managed by a Trustee and Advisory Committee.
References for further reading:
- ABC Canberra – King O’Malley’s Story, Historian David Headon tells the ‘real’ story of Canberra’s King O’Malley.
- Catts D 1957. King O’Malley: Man and Statesman. Sydney, Publicity Press
- Hoyle A R 1981. King O’Malley: The American Bounder. Melbourne, Macmillan
- Noye L 1986. O’Malley MRH. Sydney, Neptune
- Press Searle G (ed) 1988. Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol.II 1891-1939. Melbourne University Press