H. V. Evatt

Herbert Vere Evatt, QC, PC, KStJ (30 April 1894 – 2 November 1965) was an Australian politician and judge.


Dr H. V. Evatt

Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office
19 December 1930  2 September 1940
Nominated byJames Scullin
Preceded bySir Charles Powers
Succeeded bySir Dudley Williams
Chief Justice of New South Wales
In office
15 February 1960  24 October 1962
Preceded bySir Kenneth Street
Succeeded bySir Leslie Herron
Leader of the Opposition
In office
20 June 1951  9 February 1960
Prime MinisterRobert Menzies
DeputyArthur Calwell
Preceded byBen Chifley
Succeeded byArthur Calwell
Leader of the Labor Party
In office
20 June 1951  9 February 1960
DeputyArthur Calwell
Preceded byBen Chifley
Succeeded byArthur Calwell
Attorney-General for Australia
In office
7 October 1941  19 December 1949
Prime MinisterJohn Curtin
Frank Forde
Ben Chifley
Preceded byBilly Hughes
Succeeded byJohn Spicer
Minister for External Affairs
In office
7 October 1941  19 December 1949
Prime MinisterJohn Curtin
Frank Forde
Ben Chifley
Preceded bySir Frederick Stewart
Succeeded byPercy Spender
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Barton
In office
21 September 1940  22 November 1958
Preceded byAlbert Lane
Succeeded byLen Reynolds
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hunter
In office
22 November 1958  10 February 1960
Preceded byRowley James
Succeeded byBert James
Personal details
Born
Herbert Vere Evatt

(1894-04-30)30 April 1894
East Maitland, Colony of New South Wales, British Empire
Died2 November 1965(1965-11-02) (aged 71)
Forrest, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Political partyLabor
Spouse(s)
Mary Sheffer
(m. 1920)
RelationsClive Evatt (brother)
Elizabeth Evatt (niece)
Penelope Seidler (niece)
Sir George Evatt (uncle)
Children2
EducationFort Street Model School
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
OccupationLawyer
Academic
Politician
Judge

He served as a judge of the High Court of Australia from 1930 to 1940, Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs from 1941 to 1949, and leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Leader of the Opposition from 1951 to 1960.

Evatt was born in East Maitland, New South Wales, and grew up on Sydney's North Shore. He studied law at the University of Sydney, attaining the degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) in 1924. After a period in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly (1925–1930), Evatt was appointed to the High Court in 1930 by the Scullin Government. He was 36 years old, and remains the youngest appointee in the court's history. He was considered an innovative judge, but left the court to seek election to federal parliament at the 1940 federal election.

In 1941, the ALP returned to government under Prime Minister John Curtin. Evatt was appointed Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs, positions he held under Curtin and Ben Chifley until the government's defeat at the 1949 federal election. He served as President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1948 to 1949, and helped to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After Chifley's death in 1951, Evatt was elected as his successor as ALP leader. Internal tensions over the party's attitude to communism during the Cold War culminated in a party split in 1955. The ALP was defeated at three consecutive federal elections under Evatt's leadership, in 1954, 1955 and 1958. He faced three leadership spills before being convinced to retire from politics in 1960 and accept the post of Chief Justice of New South Wales.