Skip to main content

Members’ biographical register

Arthur Frederick Watts

Principal Honours
Awarded Commander brother of St John 1945
CMG 1949
Date: 26 May 1897
Place: Islington, London, England, United Kingdom
Arrival in WA
Arrived WA 1906, family stayed briefly in Perth then moved to Katanning
Son of Arthur Joseph Watts, dental surgeon, and Martha Kathleen Bradfield
Marriage and Family
Married (1) 21 April 1924, St George’s Cathedral, Perth to Dorothy Furness Thomson (born circa 1897), music teacher, daughter of James Alexander Thomson and Rachel Ann Daley
Children: one son and one daughter
Widowed: 17 April 1947
Married (2) 18 June 1948, Dalkeith to Ida Gladys O’Halloran (nee Connelly) (born circa 1898 and died 14 June 1979), widow, secretary, daughter of Arthur John Connelly and Anna Sloan
No children
Date: 8 June 1970
Place: Dalkeith, Western Australia
Cemetery: Karrakatta Lawn Cemetery, WA
Church of England
Educated Thomas St and Katanning State Schools and Guildford Grammar School
Articled to GA Cooper of Katanning in 1915 then to HCF Keall of Villeneuve Smith & Keall, Perth in 1919
Admitted to Bar 20 December 1920
Employment History
Barrister and solicitor
Returned to Katanning in partnership with GA Cooper
Later acquired practice in partnership with TE Gee
Local Government Service
Katanning Road Board 3 December 1926–April 1936
Vice chairman 1930–1936
Country Party
Date Elected
31 August 1935
Inaugural Speech
Watts, Arthur Frederick, Inaugural Speech.pdf
Inaugural Video
Search for speeches by Arthur Watts
Year Retired/Resigned
Parliamentary Service
  • MLA Katanning 31 August 1935 (by-election)–25 March 1950; Stirling 25 March 1950–14 February 1962
    Contested Katanning 8 April 1933
  • Leader of the Opposition 7 October 1942–1 April 1947
  • Minister for Education, Industrial Development, Local Government (until 7 October 1949), Housing (7 October 1949–6 April 1950), Child Welfare (from 6 April 1950) 1 April 1947–23 February 1953
  • Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Electricity and Attorney General 2 April 1959–31 January 1962
  • Leader of the Country Party 8 October 1942–31 January 1962

  • Member Select Committee on the SGIO Bill 1937
  • Member Select Committee on the Rural Relief Fund Act Amendment Bill 1937
  • Member Select Committee on the Legal Practitioners Act 1938
  • Member Select Committee on Investment Companies in WA 1939
  • Member Select Committee on the COR Ltd (Private) Bill 1940
  • Member Select Committee on the Companies Bill 1941
  • Member Select Committee on the Utility of the Railway Devices invented by Mr Walter Watts 1942–1943
  • Chairman Select Committee on the Commonwealth Powers Bill 1943
  • Chairman Select Committee on the Handling of Wool at Appraisement Centres 1945
  • Member Select Committee on the Perpetual Executors, Trustees and Agency Co (WA) Ltd and on the WA Trustee, Executor and Agency Co Ltd Acts Amendment (Private) Bills 1955

Royal Commissions
  • Chairman Hon Royal Commission on the Vermin Act 1944–1945
  • Chairman Hon Royal Commission inquiring into Restrictive Trade Practices and Legislation 1956–1957
Chairman State Licensing Board 1962–1968
Chairman National Fitness Council 1947–1952, 1959–1961
Foundation member and patron Spastic Welfare Association from 1951
President St John Ambulance, Katanning
Chairman Katanning Cricket Board of Control
WA Bar 1920
D Black and G Bolton, eds, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia: volume two 1930-2010, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2011, p. 274.
Further Information
David Black, 'Watts, Arthur Frederick (1897–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 12 January 2016.
Bulletin, 3 February 1962.
Countryman, 11 January 1962.
West Australian, 9 June 1949, 10 January 1962, 26 February 1968, 9 June 1970.