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JJ Holland

JJ Holland Park in Kensington is named after John Joseph Holland, who was the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Flemington for over 30 years from 1925.

“Jack” Holland was Old School Labor.  A social justice Catholic and working class autodidact, he was born in Carlton in 1877.  He learned his political craft as a militant activist fitter and postal mechanic in the Postal Mechanics Union, as a Trades Hall Council Delegate, and as president and secretary of the Flemington Branch of the ALP.  He was also a left wing shock jock on the Labor Hour on 3KZ from 1931 until 1946.

Jack entered parliament in 1925 as the MLA for the seat of Flemington.  He was a Minister for Public Works for five days in 1943 until the United Australia Party Coalition brought down the first government of John Cain Senior.  Taking into account the redistribution between 1945 to April 1955 (when his seat was renamed Footscray), Jack represented Flemington, Kensington, North Melbourne and Parkville for over thirty years.

If Jack had stood for Labor preselection today his prospects would be doubtful because he seemed to have had a habit of advocating non-market solutions.  He headed a State Committee to investigate a shorter working week, he championed increases in unemployment insurance, pensions and child endowments. The other great passion of his working life was co-operatives and he served on the boards of a number of Flemington and Kensington Co-operatives, including a 35 year stint on the Victorian Public Servants Credit Co-operative.

Jack was about as Kensington as they come.  He lived in McConnell Street for over 50 years and died there on Christmas Day 1955.  Befitting a long-term Kensington bloke, his Requiem Mass was held at Holy Rosary Church.  Following the service, then Deputy Labor Leader Mr. Shepherd said of Jack, “The greatest tribute we could pay Jack Holland is to recall his long and honest service to the Labor Movement during the past 45 to 50 years.”

Jack had five kids including a son Kevin who followed in his Dad’s footsteps, serving the people of Flemington, Kensington and Ascot Vale with distinction.  Kevin went to School at Holy Rosary and Saint Mary’s CBC West Melbourne.  Like his father, Kev had a distinguished career in service to the community in which he lived.  He took the seat of Kensington over from his Dad and held it from 1956 until 1964.  Kev also served on the Melbourne City Council for the Hopetoun Ward for twenty years from 1955 until 1975.

Kev showed great personal courage and commitment to the Party when as a devout Catholic he resisted denunciations from the pulpit and the privations of Bob Santamaria and his immoral gang during the Split.  Jack Galbally and Kevin remained staunchly Labor during this torrid time

Ironically, on Kev’s death in 1996 John Brumby said in Parliament:”Kevin’s service to the Labor Party, The Parliament of Victoria and the Melbourne City Council will not be forgotten, nor his extraordinary commitment to the people of the Western Suburbs.”

Between Jack and Kevin Holland they served as the state parliamentary representatives for the people of Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne continuously from 1925 until 1964, a period of 39 years.

Contribution from Mark Perica