Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin


Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin (Parliament of Tasmania)

Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin (18721951), economist, was one of the great originals of Australian public life of the first half of the twentieth century. Born and dying in Hobart, he hastened between scholarship, physical exploit and public service throughout nation and Empire, without ever truly quitting Tasmania.

The first 45 years of Giblin's life were ardent, dense and entirely distant 'from even the fringes of economic learning'. No remark on economic analysis has been recorded by the King's College scholar (1892), hero of the Klondike gold rushes (18981904), Tasmanian Labour MHA (191316), or winner of a Military Cross for 'conspicuous gallantry' on the Western Front. It was only in 1918 that there arose in him the technical interest in financial affairs that was to propel his public life thereafter.

In 1920 he became Government Statistician of Tasmania essentially an official economic advisor. After helping make Tasmania the recognised centre of economic studies in Australia, he became in 1929 Ritchie Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne, and in 1931 Acting Commonwealth Statistician effectively the personal economic advisor to the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. He performed the same service to Robert Menzies between 1939 and 1941. He died at his home in Hobart, working until his last on his one book, The Story of the Commonwealth Bank (1951).

Giblin may be considered the exemplar of the Keynesian movement in economic policy in Australia. His entrée into the Bloomsbury circle initiated his friendship with John Maynard Keynes. Through his rationalism, 'paganism', footloose leftism and intuitive modernism Giblin arrived at the same sort of sharp revaluations of classical economic wisdom that Keynes did. He devised, for example, the Multiplier concept independently of Keynes, and before him.

His memorialists record him as 'shrewd but not cynical', 'fearless... but never aggressive', a man with 'many critics but no enemies', 'a natural leader of men', 'a superb teacher', and 'a fabulous old man', who 'with clear thinking and intellectual honesty' 'almost single handedly founded an Australian political economy'.

Further reading: D Copland (ed), Giblin, Melbourne, 1960; R Wilson, 'L.F. Giblin', Search 7/7; W Coleman & A Hagger, 'An Edinburgh of the south?', THS 8/2, 2003; ADB 8.

William Coleman