But Hughes had only ever completed one year of teacher’s college in Tasmania, before he was appointed principal at a one-teacher school near Cradle Mountain. In 1936 he became a resident master at Melbourne’s Caulfield Grammar, where he enrolled in third year chemistry at university, but he never finished that degree either.
In World War II, he enlisted in the Air Force and was promoted on the basis of this degree he did not have.
When he was exposed,he was forced to resign as party leader before the 1959 state election. For a month after this, he remained in hospital with a gastric ulcer and a nervous condition. Yet without leaving his hospital bed or campaigning at all, he was returned with an increased majority – just like Joyce, who when forced into a byelection last December because of his dual citizenship was returned with an 11 per cent swing.
A month after Davis Hughes returned to parliament, he outlined the “true position” of his degree-less status to his Macquarie Street colleagues. He said he had only ever claimed to have “read for” a bachelor of science degree. “Apparently from that more was taken than was actually intended,” he explained. There was a soft murmur of “hear, hears” when he gave his justification.
The sympathy of the house was with him. He went on to become NSW minister for public works in the 1965 Askin government, which forced Sydney Opera House architect Jorn Utzon to resign.
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