Fihelly was born on 7 November 1882 at Timoleague, Cork, Ireland, son of Cornelius Fihelly, customs officer, and his wife Anne, née McCarthy. The family migrated to Brisbane in 1883 Fihelly at the young age of 13 began work at the Post Office as a telegraph messenger. By 1908 Fihelly was a junior clerk in the Department of Trade and Customs. During these years Fihelly established a national reputation as a Rugby League footballer. He was the Assistant Manager of the first Australian Rugby League team to visit Britain in 1908-1909. Fihelly was President of the Queensland Amateur Rugby League in 1914-1916. From the 1906 Fihelly wrote pieces for the Worker. In 1912 Fihelly became the Member for Paddington in the Queensland Legislative Assembly.  Upon the formation of the Ryan Government in 1915, the first majority Labor Government in Queensland (the previous and short-lived Queensland Labor Government was, in fact, the first Labor/Labour Government in the world), Fihelly served as Minister without Portfolio and Assistant Minister for Justice. By 1918 Fihelly was made Secretary for Railways. When Edward (Ted) Theodore won the parliamentary leadership of the Labor Party, and hence became the new Premier of Queensland, Fihelly became the party’s Deputy Leader. In this capacity Fihelly was the Acting Premier for the state reception for the Prince of Wales in 1920. Although in this role he showed great decorum, Fihelly’s aggressive behaviour had been increasingly an embarrassment to the Labor Party, and in 1921, Fihelly lost pre-selection for the Federal seat of Maranoa. The following year (1922) Fihelly was appointed Queensland’s Agent-General in London. In 1924, after a tiff with Theodore over the Premier arriving in London to takeover loan negotiations – which Fihelly saw as his Agent-General’s role – and with domestic and emotional problems, Fihelly left London with advising the Queensland Government. Fihelly merely handed his resignation to Theodore in New York City, in transit through the United States. In 1925, with the first 'Greater Brisbane' (the creating of the largest local government area for the southern hemisphere) council elections, Fihelly became the Councillor for the Paddington Ward. He remained in local government until 1930 when he was defeated by the future Queensland Premier, Edward Hanlon, in the pre-selection ballot.

See John Arthur Fihelly on Scatterplot Matrix.


Crouchley, Betty. 'Fihelly, John Arthur (1882–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 6 September 2015.

John Arthur Fihelly (1882 –1945)

Journalist and Political Theorist

John Fihelly
John Fihelly
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