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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania

8. Tasmanian Commonwealth persons

Practically from its establishment, the National Archives has been interested in the records of significant individuals closely connected with the Commonwealth Government and administration. The Archives calls these people 'Commonwealth persons', and identifies them by a unique CP-prefixed number. This interest, extending beyond the strict boundaries of the National Archives' core business of Commonwealth records, was validated when it finally gained statutory existence and authority under the Archives Act 1983. In addition to prime ministers, ministers and significant parliamentarians, the National Archives has also taken an interest in senior government officials, federal judges and heads of statutory authorities and similar entities.

Rather than papers relating purely to a person's political party, electorate business, family, and their years before and after public life, it was their personal and semi-official papers which were especially valued. These can complement and add context to related series of Commonwealth records in support of public research. Usually, an access policy which parallels official rules is negotiated with the creator (or an appropriate representative).

Over the course of the 20th century, 20 Tasmanian members of the House of Representatives and 14 senators have been members of Cabinet (see Appendix D). A number, including King O'Malley (1858?–1953), Sir Edward Braddon (1829–1904) and Lance Barnard (1919–97), have become household names. Equally, there have been other renowned Tasmanian federal parliamentarians of national importance, such as former independent Senator Brian Harradine and former Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown. Joe and Enid Lyons, however, were undoubtedly the most famous. Joe Lyons (1879–1939) was Prime Minister between 1932 and 1939, as well as a former Tasmanian Premier. His wife Dame Enid (1897–1981) was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives and the first female member of federal Cabinet.


Chapter 8
Tasmanian Commonwealth persons