LEE, John Alfred Alexander, D.C.M.
Author and controversialist.
A new biography of Lee, John Alfred Alexander appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.p>John Alfred Alexander Lee was born at Castle Street, Dunedin, on 31 October 1891, the son of Alfred Lee and Mary Isabella, née Taylor. He was educated at Albany Street Primary School, Dunedin, and worked on farms and in factories until 1909, when he joined the Public Works Department. During the First World War he served with the 1st NZEF, won the D.C.M. at Messines, he was wounded, and lost his left arm. After the war he stood for Parliament as a Labour candidate and represented Auckland East (1922–28) and Grey Lynn (1931–43). His early experiences on farms and in factories provided a valuable background for his political writings. From 1936 to 1939 he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary, first to the Prime Minister, M. J. Savage, and later to the Minister of Finance, Walter Nash. In this position he became responsible for carrying out the Labour Party's housing policy. In May 1940, following differences with his colleagues on questions of leadership and monetary policy, Lee was expelled from the Labour Party. He remained in Parliament until 1943, when he formed the Democratic Labour Party, but was not returned at the general election. He then established himself in the book trade and formed a small printing company. Apart from political pamphlets, Lee's publications include Children of the Poor (1934), The Hunted (1936), Civilian into Soldier (1937), Socialism in New Zealand (1938), Shining with the Shiner (1944), and Simple on a Soapbox (1963).