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Barnes, John Francis (Frank)

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Birth Date: 21 October 1904 (Gympie, Queensland, Australia)

Death Date: 12 May 1952 (Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia)

Parents: George Daniel Barnes and Bridget Maria (nee Gorey)

Family: Evelyn Dorothy Buchanan on 20 January 1943, 1 son, 1 daughter

Education: Christian Brothers College, Gympie

Religion: Church of England

Relationship to Politician: His brother, Louis Joseph Barnes was the member for Cairns 1942-1947


Licensed victualler, Commercial Hotel, Bundaberg; Commerical traveller in wine and spirits; Cashier, butcher shop, Gympie

Parliamentary Representation:

House Party Electorate From To Elected/Departure Reason
Assembly INDL Bundaberg 29 Mar 1941 3 May 1947
Assembly FBL Bundaberg 3 May 1947 29 Apr 1950

Additional Information

Notes: In his youth, Mr Barnes was a champion runner, footballer and rifle shot. Associate, Douglas Social Credit Movement. A failed police prosecution for selling liquor after hours launched Mr Barnes' extraordinary political career. Convinced of widespread police and political corruption, he initiated numerous successful prosecutions for breaches of the liquor laws that earned him the nickname 'the Bundaberg Bombshell'. An 'able bush-lawyer', he lost only one of 31 applications to the Supreme Court of Queensland. During his stormy political career, he was suspended from parliament eight times during the nine years he was elected. During debate on the Appropriation Bill, Mr Barnes was suspended for two weeks without pay after an extraordinary scene which was the climax to an outburt by him on the subject of an inquiry into a missing woman, Marjorie Norval (former social secretary to Mrs Forgan Smith) who he said had been 'shanghaied to California'. He was repeatedly warned and subsequently suspended. When Mr Barnes refused to reveal his source to the police on the missing woman, the government amended the Coroner's Act to make it an offence to withhold such information. After declining to name his source a second time, the coroner jailed him. In court on 1 Jun 1943 Barnes named his informants as 'Detective Smith' and 'Citizen Jones', but later conceded that he had been duped. Always dressed in a white suit and pith helmet, he was a political showman, never above stage-managing incidents to attract publicity. Humour was part of his political style: when rebuked by chairman of committees Sam Brassington in Oct 1943 for not apologising to the House 'in a decent and manly way', Barnes knelt on the floor, clasped his hands, and intoned, 'I humbly withdraw the statement'. After another suspension it was ruled that the suspension from parliament precluded Barnes from occupying a room at the country members lodge. The Speaker directed the police to evict him. In May 1946 Barnes, in the Full Court of Queensland, won his case for assault against a policeman on the grounds that the lodge was not part of Parliament House. His marriage to Miss Evelyn Buchanan of Beaudesert took place on the terrace of Parliament House. It was the first wedding to be held there. In the motion of condolence speakers referred to `Bombshell' Barnes' colourful character and unpredictable nature

Sources: Image courtesy of State Library of Queensland; Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Motion of Condolence, Third session of the 32nd, V.204, 19 Aug 1952, pp.9-12 (Brisbane, Qld: Government Printers); The Courier-Mail, 'Barnes-always a critic', 13 May 1952; The Courier-Mail, Barnes claims £200 damages, 17 Nov 1945; The Courier-Mail, 'Detective eject J.F. Barnes', 16 Nov 1945; Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Address in Reply, First session of the 29th Parliament, V.CLXXVII, 2 Sep 1941, pp.149-155 (Brisbane, Qld: Government Printers); Costar, B.J., Barnes, John Francis (Frank) (1904–1952), Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University; Lack, Clem, Three Decades of Queensland Political History, 1929-1960 (Brisbane: Government Printer, 1962)

[Last Modified: Wednesday, 10 February 2016]