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Jack Lang, life mask

by Arthur Murch

fibreglass and resin

John Thomas (Jack) Lang (1875-1975) was a pugnacious estate agent who was Labor premier of NSW from 1925 to 1927 and 1930 to 1932. Lang's reputation as a reformer stems from his first period in office, when he introduced the widows' pension, child endowment and a Workers Compensation Act. The working-class 'Big Fella' aroused so much fear amongst the middle class that a paramilitary organisation, the New Guard, was formed to protect the State; it was a member of this New Guard who beat Lang to the ribbon at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In 1931 he introduced the 'Lang Plan', refusing to pay interest to British bondholders at the expense of Australian dole recipients; this led to his sacking in 1932. For many years after his dismissal, Lang continued to play a major part in Australian Labor politics.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2000
Accession number: 2003.155