AGENTS-GENERAL FOR TASMANIA


Alfred Dobson, Agent-General 1901 to 1908 (AOT, PH30/1/9965)

Initially the colony of Van Diemen's Land was represented by a private agent who pursued the anti-transportation case in London for the settlers. After the advent of responsible government, an Immigration Agent was appointed to promote immigration to Tasmania in 1857. During the nineteenth century an Agent-General was appointed by each of the Australian Colonies.

The post of Agent-General for Tasmania in London was established by the Agent-General Act (1885). It was a semi-diplomatic position, where the Government and Tasmania were represented at official functions and the interests of the colony were promoted at various government as well as trade and industry levels.

Following the advent of federation, the role of Agent-General did not change markedly. The Agent-General Act was revised in a minor way in 1911. Britain still represented Australia for much of its foreign (or external) affairs. When Australia as a nation began to take a more active role in foreign affairs after the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the diplomatic element of the post declined. However the Tasmanian Agent-General continued to represent the state's interests and the trade promotion aspect remained an important role. The office of Agent-General also handled indents for Tasmanian Government purchases from Britain and Europe.

The Agent-General and a small staff were situated in central London at 458/9 Strand, London, nearly opposite Charing Cross Railway Station. A residence was provided for the Agent-General at 31 West Heath Ave, Golders Green, as well as an official car (a Daimler Princess and then a Mercedes-Benz).

The government of DA Lowe decided to close the Office of the Agent-General in 1981 as an economy measure. While popular with the public, the news was greeted with markedly less enthusiasm among those who realised the collective worth of the position and its functions. The London residence was sold in 1983. The Agent-General Act of 1911 remained part of Tasmanian law until it was repealed in 1992.

 

Occupant

Period of appointment

 

 

Hon Adye Douglas (later Sir, Kt)

18861887

Sir Arthur Blyth (acting)

18871888

James A Youl CMG (later Sir, KCMG) (acting)

1888

Hon Edward N C Braddon (later Right Hon Sir, PC KCMG)

18881893

Sir Robert Herbert

18931896

Sir Andrew Clarke (acting)

1896

Sir Westby Percival

18961898

Sir Andrew Clarke (acting)

18981899

Hon Sir Philip O Fysh, KCMG

18991901

Sir Andrew Clarke (acting)

1901

Hon Alfred Dobson, CMG

19011908

Sir John H McCall, KCMG, Kt

19091919

Alfred Ashbolt (later Sir, Kt)

19201924

Lieut-Colonel R Eccles Snowden (later Sir, Kt)

19241930

Darcy W Addison, CMG, ISO, MVO

19301931

Herbert W Ely, ISO (acting)

19311937

Hon Sir Claude E W James, Kt

19371950

Sir Eric E Von Bibra, Kt, OBE

19501958

Hon Sir Alfred J White, Kt

19591971

Royce R Neville

19711978

Hon William A Neilson, AC

19781981

Further reading: Tasmanian Year Book 1974, p 89; Walch's Almanac 197980, p 61; Mercury, 2 July 1981, p 1; Examiner, 2 July 1981, p 6.

Peter Bennison