Robert Mackenzie Johnston

Robert Mackenzie Johnston (18431918), Government Statistician, Registrar-General of Births Deaths and Marriages and Registrar of Trade Marks and Letters of Patent, 18801918. A man of exceptional ability, he was also the government's main financial and economic policy adviser, and gained a national reputation as an expert on federal financial matters during the negotiations leading up to federation. Papers he prepared between 1901 and 1910 helped ensure that the Commonwealth acknowledged Tasmania's financial disabilities under federation.

Born in Scotland, a trained accountant and auditor, Johnston migrated to Tasmania in 1870. His wide-ranging interests included botany and geology, fish and molluscs, and he was a member of many societies and boards. Publications included Systematic account of the geology of Tasmania, and, after his death, a volume of his papers.

Further reading: R Johnston, The R.M. Johnston memorial volume, Hobart, 1921; H Felton, From commissariat to treasury, Hobart, 2004.

Heather Felton