35. John Joseph “Jack” Simons, (1883-1948), founder of the Young Australia League and newspaper owner
John Joseph “Jack” Simons was born in Clare, South Australia and came to Western Australia in 1896 to work as a tinsmith. He was committed to social improvement, Australian nationalism and the Labor Party. He was secretary of the WA National Football League, 1905-1914.
Together with Lionel Boas (secretary of the Karrakatta Cemetery Board) John Simons established the Young Australia League in 1905 to promote “education through travel”. The League was a patriotic, independent, non-sectarian and non-political organisation with girls and boys as members.
After World War I, Simons founded interstate branches of the League and also founded the Araluen Gardens in the 1930s as a memorial to League members killed in action during the War. Though Simons campaigned against conscription in 1916-1917, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Labor in Fremantle in 1917.
Considered physically unfit for military service, he joined the militia and served at home. He was elected to Parliament in 1921 for the Labor seat of East Perth, but resigned the next year. Jack Simons and Victor Courtney founded the weekly Call, and later the weekly Mirror in 1921. In 1935, they formed a partnership with Claude de Bernales and bought The Sunday Times.
Simons was managing director, and his paper eventually opposed the secession movement in Western Australia. Simons was a member of the Australian Natives’ Association, a Rotarian, and life member of the WA Trotting Association. He did not marry, and bequeathed his interest in Western Press in trust for the Young Australia League. Jack Simons died 24 October 1948 aged 65 years.