Sir John Latham joins that long list of eminent lawyers to sit on the Equity Trustees board, being a director for 16 years before stepping down on becoming the fifth Chief Justice of Australia in 1935. He was also connected to another historical figure in the Equity Trustees board appointments.
Born in Melbourne, he graduated in arts and law before being called to the bar in 1904. But Latham’s stellar career was not limited to the courtroom.
During World War 1, he headed the Navy’s intelligence division, and in 1919 was a delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference where he clashed with Prime Minister Billy Hughes, a bitter dispute that overshadowed his entire parliamentary career.
He entered Parliament in 1922 on an anti-Hughes platform, was a Minister in the Stanley Bruce (also an Equity trustees director from 1918 – 1921) Government, and then Opposition Leader when Labor gained office in 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression.
When Joseph Lyons
split from Labor to form the United Australia Party
with other disaffected Labor
MPs in 1931, Latham relinquished the leadership to Lyons in recognition of the latter’s greater electoral appeal. He also took two years off from the High Court in 1940-41 to be Australia’s inaugural full diplomatic posting to Japan