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Street, Geoffrey Austin (1894–1940)

Geoffrey Austin Street, Minister for Defence, in the Menzies Government, was a member of one of Australia's oldest families, with its roots deep in the pastoral industry and in Australian history.

John Street of Birtley, Surrey, great grandfather of the Minister and grandfather of the late Chief Justice of New South Wales, came out early in 1822, bringing with him merino sheep from the flock of Thomas Henty of West Tarring, Sussex. Thomas Henty, who remained on his Sussex farm, and John Street, who took up property at Woodlands, Bathurst, N.S.W., kept up a correspondence for a number of years. Apart from his work as a Minister of the Crown, Brigadier Street's principal interest was the breeding of prize Polwarths on his property, Eildon at Lismore, Victoria.

Brigadier Street was born at Sydney on January 1, 1894, the son of J. W. and M. V. Street, of Sydney.

The outbreak of war in 1914 found him a law student at Sydney University and a member of the University Scouts. His law course was never completed. He enlisted on August 5 in the Australian Naval, Military and Expeditionary Force (which shortly afterwards occupied German New Guinea) but before embarkation he joined the A.I.F. as the junior subaltern in the First Battalion and sailed with the 1st Division on 18th October, 1914. Wounded in the landing on Gallipoli on April 20, 1915, he was back again in action on the Peninsula on May 25, and from that day until September 18, 1918, when he was again wounded, never knew a day's absence from his military duties owing to wounds or illness. From July, 1917, to April, 1918, he was Brigade Major to Brigadier-General H. E. Elliott. He ended his service in 1919 with the rank of Major and the Military Cross. Placed on the reserve after the war, he returned to the service in 1931 as Squadron Leader in the 4th Light Horse. He was promoted to the command of the regiment after l8 months' service, and finally to the command of the Third Cavalry Brigade, but was seconded on being appointed Minister for Defence in the Lyons Government on November 7, 1938.

Brigadier Street was a member of the Transport Inquiry Board appointed in 1933 by the Victorian Government to examine the regulation of transport. He was elected to the House of Representatives, in the U.A.P. interest, as member for Corangamite in 1934, and was returned with a substantial majority at the next election. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence in July, 1938, and a few months later succeeded Mr. H. V. C. Thorby as Minister for Defence. Throughout his Parliamentary career he had been a consistent advocate of defence reorganisation, national preparedness and national fitness.

Brigadier Street was married in London in 1918, to the daughter of Edwin Currie a member of a well known Western District family. He also leaves a son and daughter.

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Citation details

'Street, Geoffrey Austin (1894–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/street-geoffrey-austin-946/text947, accessed 18 October 2018.

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