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Albert George Ogilvie: a Short Biography

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Albert George Ogilvie (1890-1939) was 28th Premier of Tasmania, also great-uncle of Madeleine Ogilvie, one of the current Clark MHAs.

Albert George Ogilvie

Early life

Albert George Ogilvie was born at the Victoria Tavern in Hobart on 10 March 1890. His father, James Ogilvie, was a tavern keeper and the son of a convict.

Ogilvie received his education at Buckland’s School, St. Virgil’s College, and St. Patrick’s College in Ballarat, Victoria. He graduated from the University of Tasmania in 1913 with a law degree.

Marriage and family

On 16 October 1920, Ogilvie married a woman named Dorothy Mabel Hines. They had a daughter together.

Law career

Ogilvie served articles with Norman Kirkwood Ewing before being admitted to the Bar in 1914. In 1921, he successfully defended George William King, who had been accused of murdering Chrissie Venn*.

Early political career

Ogilvie eventually entered Labor politics.

In May 1919, he won the seat of Franklin in the House of Assembly.

When the Tasmanian Labor Party won the 1923 election, Ogilvie joined Joseph Lyons’ cabinet. His portfolios were: Attorney-General; Education; and Forests and Mines.

Scandal

In August 1927, a Nationalist politician claimed that improper relationships existed between Ogilvie’s law firm and the Public Trust Office (which Ogilvie had responsibility for as Attorney-General). Justice Sir Harold Crisp, a royal commissioner, investigated the allegation and found that Ogilvie had covered up his firm’s difficulty in meeting due payments.

When Lyons heard about this, he forced Ogilvie to resign from cabinet. Ogilvie was not debarred, though. His reputation did not suffer in the long-term, either.

Leader of the Opposition

The Tasmanian Labor Party lost the 1928 election, and subsequently became the opposition party.

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When Joseph Lyons went to the House of Representatives in 1929, Ogilvie succeeded him as leader of the Labor Party.

Even though Ogilvie took a radical stance in the lead up to the 1931 election, the Labor Party lost. It won the 1934 election, though, and Ogilvie became Premier.

Premier of Tasmania

Ogilvie proved to be a successful Premier.

He oversaw all cabinet portfolios although took none himself specifically; got rid of state secondary school fees to help Tasmania recover from the Great Depression; restored public service salaries; improved health services; and made diverse educational changes.

He also implemented an unemployment relief program that saw men become employed in public works, including the road to kunanyi/Mount Wellington’s pinnacle.

Hydro-electric development meant much to Ogilvie’s government, with a highlight being the opening of Tarraleah station in February 1938; work also proceeded at Lake St Clair. In financing these and other activities Ogilvie benefited from the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Loan Council.

The major industrial development of the decade was in pulp and paper, Ogilvie himself orchestrating establishment of the Australian Newsprint Mills plant at Boyer, southern Tasmania.

Death and legacy

Ogilvie won a second term as Premier in 1937, but did not live to see it through. He died suddenly from coronary heart disease on 10 June 1939. His estate was worth £9,805 (£645,713.09 when adjusted for inflation).

His funeral was attended by many people, including Dame Enid Lyons.

Scholar Edmund Morris Miller eulogised Ogilvie thus: “[He] demolished the signs of ancient days and aroused a modern outlook”.

A statue of Ogilvie stands in Parliament Gardens in Hobart. Ogilvie High School was named after him in 1940.

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* Chrissie Clare Venn was a 13-year-old girl who was murdered near Ulverstone on 26 February 1921.

Madeleine Ogilvie, George Ogilvie’s great-niece.

Bibliography

‘Ogilvie, Albert George (1890–1939)’, written by Michael Roe for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Albert George Ogilvie’s Parliament of Tasmania profile.

Smith, Noel and Smith, Lucy (2000), Chrissie Venn: Suffer Little Children, Nemesis Publications, Tasmania.

‘Ewing, Norman Kirkwood (1870–1928)’, written by Scott Bennett for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

‘Miller, Edmund Morris (1881–1964)’, written by John Reynolds and Michael Roe for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

‘Murder of Chrissie Venn’, Daily Herald, 4 April 1921, page 3.

‘About Us’, Ogilvie High School.

Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2020/11/albert-george-ogilvie-biography/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=albert-george-ogilvie-biography

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