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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania


In 1920, momentarily, Tasmania forgot its grief. The Prince of Wales and future King visited. In Ellen Jensen's words, his was a tour 'of triumph in the wake of the Great War' and a 'reaffirmation of ties of service and loyalty', while another royal visit in 1927 by the Duke and Duchess of York (and another future King and Queen) emphasised 'remembrance of war'. Between these bookends the Commonwealth in 1921 opened the Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart (CA 1592), and Commonwealth and state combined to provide soldiers with loans for houses and land to help primary industries and personal recovery – with mixed success. Organised help for families who had lost a father or husband took the shape of the Remembrance Club (later known as Legacy), formed by one of Tasmania's most respected soldiers, Major-General Sir John Gellibrand.

Politically both federal and state governments endeavoured to increase prosperity within an imperial community. Although the two political leaders who dominated the decade, Premier JA Lyons (1923–28) and Prime Minister SM Bruce (1923–29) had their differences, these were the years when Tasmania received the first of five grants of £50,000 and the tax from the Tattersall's lottery. Both men saw agricultural exports, manufacturing, migration, science and technology as keys to recovery from the war and its economic aftermath. The new federal Development and Migration Commission (1926–30; CA 243) was established to investigate and advise on the linked problems of development and migration. It took a close interest in Tasmania. Lyons did something similar with a Tasmanian Development Advisory Board in 1923. In their different ways, the simple naming of new Tasmanian-based Commonwealth agencies also tells this story: the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research State Committee, Tasmania (from 1926; CA 7516), State Advisory Dairy Board, Tasmania, 1926–36 (from 1926; CA 3398), and State Advisory Fruit Board, Tasmania (from 1926; CA 3401). Another new presence from 1928, a Registrar in Bankruptcy, Tasmania District (CA 928), foreshadowed the gathering storm.


Chapter 1
The Commonwealth and Tasmania, 1901–2000