Chief Secretary of New South Wales

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Chief Secretary of New South Wales
Former political post
New South Wales coa.png
Predecessor Colonial Secretary
First officeholder Frederick Goulburn
Last officeholder Anne Cohen
Style The Honourable
Appointer Governor of New South Wales
Office began 1 January 1821
Office ended 4 April 1995
The Chief Secretary's Building in Macquarie Street, Sydney.

The Chief Secretary of New South Wales, known from 1821 to 1959 as the Colonial Secretary was a key political office in the colonial and state administration in New South Wales, from 1901 a state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Its role changed significantly from the time of its creation in 1821 to its final use in 1995, with various responsibilities changing hands. Nominally subordinate to the Governor of New South Wales from the early 19th century until the beginning of full self-government in 1856, he was effectively a government record-keeper and the officer with responsibility for the general administration of the colony. However, for most of its history the Chief Secretary was in charge of all matters relating to correspondence with government departments, naturalisation, the Great Seal, state security, censorship and classification laws, the arts (to 1975), Public Health (to 1934), Aboriginal welfare (to 1969), Lord Howe Island, and environmental protection and fisheries.[1]

Role and responsibilities[edit]

The office of Colonial Secretary was created in 1821 to succeed the previous office of Secretary to the Governor, which had been the primary deputy to the Governor, representing the change from the absolute rule of the governor to the beginnings of self-government not only in NSW but also Australia. Originally having the role of the secretary to the Governor as well as secretary of the Colony this office was at first known as the Colonial Secretary or Principal Secretary. In 1821, Governor of New South Wales Philip Gidley King wrote that the Colonial Secretary: "Has the custody of all official papers and records belonging to the colony; transcribes the public despatches; charged with making out all grants, leases and other public Colonial instruments; also the care of numerous indents or lists sent with convicts of their terms of conviction, and every other official transaction relating to the Colony and Government; and is a situation of much responsibility and confidence."[2][3] On 30 June 1820 Major Frederick Goulburn was commissioned as Colonial Secretary and Registrar of the Records of New South Wales, being sworn in on 1 January 1821.[1] The role was initially an administrative role, serving as primary record-keeper and revenue collector, but also being responsible for ensuring the effective operation of government departments, for the Governor's Council and on the Legislative Council, of which they were an ex officio member.[1]

After 1842 the Governor ceased to occupy a seat in the Legislative Council and thus the role of chief government spokesman and representative in the colonial legislature was taken up by the Colonial Secretary, thereby significantly increasing its role at a time prior to the development of the role of Premier. After the grant of full responsible government in 1856, this evolved to be a subordinate cabinet-level political position and not the role of a civil servant or government spokesman, although it was tied to the office of Premier until 1894. From 1894 the Colonial Secretary was thus a government minister and was basically equivalent to the British Home Secretary. From 1859 the Colonial Secretary was referred to as the "Colonial Secretary or Chief Secretary to the Government", signifying the gradual use of the tern 'Chief' rather than 'Colonial' Secretary although it would not be officially changed until 1 April 1959 under the Ministers of the Crown Act (1959).[1]

For most of the modern role of the Chief Secretary up to its penultimate abolition in 1975, the office had responsibilities for:

  • The protection and welfare of the Aboriginal population.
  • Lord Howe Island.
  • Gaming, racing, betting and poker machines.
  • Theatre regulation and licensing.
  • Censorship and regulation of literature, art, films and plays.
  • Custody of the Great Seal.
  • Electoral matters
  • Environmental protection and fisheries.

The role was revived briefly for the period of the Willis Ministry from January to May 1976, and was revived for the last time for the period of the Liberal/National Coalition government from 1988 to 1995.

List of Colonial and Chief Secretaries of New South Wales[edit]

Colonial Secretaries 1821–1959
Ordinal Colonial Secretary[4] Party affiliation Period
1 Frederick Goulburn None 1 January 1821 – 7 January 1826
2 Alexander Macleay 8 January 1826 – 2 January 1837
3 Edward Deas Thomson 2 January 1837 – 6 June 1856
4 Stuart Donaldson 6 June 1856 – 25 August 1856
5 Charles Cowper 26 August 1856 – 2 October 1856
6 Henry Parker 3 October 1856 – 7 September 1857
Charles Cowper 7 September 1857 – 26 October 1859
7 William Forster 27 October 1859 – 8 March 1860
8 John Robertson 9 March 1860 – 9 January 1861
Charles Cowper 10 January 1861 – 15 October 1863
9 James Martin 16 October 1863 – 2 February 1865
Charles Cowper 3 February 1865 – 21 January 1866
James Martin 22 January 1866 – 26 October 1868
John Robertson 27 October 1868 – 12 January 1870
Charles Cowper 13 January 1870 – 15 December 1870
Sir James Martin 16 December 1870 – 13 May 1872
10 Henry Parkes 14 May 1872 – 8 February 1875
John Robertson 9 February 1875 – 21 March 1877
Henry Parkes 22 March 1877 – 16 August 1877
Sir John Robertson 17 August 1877 – 17 December 1877
11 James Farnell 18 December 1877 – 20 December 1878
Sir Henry Parkes 21 December 1878 – 4 January 1883
12 Alexander Stuart 5 January 1883 – 6 October 1885
13 George Dibbs 7 October 1885 – 9 October 1885
Sir John Robertson 22 December 1885 – 22 February 1886
14 Sir Patrick Jennings Protectionist 26 February 1886 – 19 January 1887
Sir Henry Parkes Free Trade 25 January 1887 – 16 January 1889
George Dibbs Protectionist 17 January 1889 – 7 March 1889
Sir Henry Parkes Free Trade 8 March 1889 – 23 October 1891
George Dibbs Protectionist 23 October 1891 – 2 August 1894
15 James Brunker Free Trade 3 August 1894 – 13 September 1899
16 John See Protectionist 14 September 1899 – 14 June 1904
17 John Perry 15 June 1904 – 29 August 1904
18 James Hogue Liberal Reform 29 August 1904 – 13 May 1907
19 Thomas Waddell 14 May 1907 – 1 October 1907
20 William Wood 2 October 1907 – 20 October 1910
21 Donald Macdonell Labor 21 October 1910 – 26 October 1911
22 Fred Flowers 7 November 1911 – 26 November 1911
23 James McGowen 27 November 1911 – 29 June 1913
24 William Holman 30 June 1913 – 29 January 1914
25 John Cann 29 January 1914 – 15 March 1915
26 George Black 15 March 1915 – 15 November 1916
27 George Fuller Nationalist 15 November 1916 – 12 April 1920
28 James Dooley Labor 21 April 1920 – 20 December 1921
29 Charles Oakes Nationalist 20 December 1921
James Dooley Labor 20 December 1921 – 13 April 1922
Charles Oakes Nationalist 13 April 1922 – 17 June 1925
30 Carlo Lazzarini Labor 17 June 1925 – 26 May 1927
31 Mark Gosling 27 May 1927 – 18 October 1927
32 Albert Bruntnell Nationalist 18 October 1927 – 31 January 1929
33 Thomas Bavin 1 February 1929 – 15 April 1929
34 Frank Chaffey 16 April 1929 – 3 November 1930
Mark Gosling Labor 4 November 1930 – 16 May 1932
Frank Chaffey United Australia 16 May 1932 – 13 April 1938
35 George Gollan 13 April 1938 – 16 August 1939
36 Alwyn Tonking 16 August 1939 – 16 May 1941
37 Jack Baddeley Labor 16 May 1941 – 8 September 1949
38 James McGirr 8 September 1949 – 21 September 1949
39 Claude Matthews 21 September 1949 – 30 June 1950
40 Clive Evatt 30 June 1950 – 2 April 1952
41 Gus Kelly 3 April 1952 – 1 April 1959
Chief Secretaries 1959–1995
Ordinal Chief Secretary Party affiliation Period
Gus Kelly Labor 1 April 1959 – 13 May 1965
42 Eric Willis Liberal 13 May 1965 – 19 June 1972
43 Ian Griffith 19 June 1972 – 3 January 1975
Office not in use N/A 3 January 1975 – 23 January 1976
44 Peter Coleman Liberal 23 January 1976 – 14 May 1976
Office not in use N/A 14 May 1976 – 25 March 1988
45 Garry West National 25 March 1988 – 24 July 1990
46 Ian Causley 24 July 1990 – 6 June 1991
47 Anne Cohen Liberal 6 June 1991 – 4 April 1995

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Chief Secretary - Agency Detail". State Records Archives Investigator. NSW Government State Records. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Secretary to the Governor". New South Wales Government. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Historical Records of Australia, Volume 1, Series 4, p.538
  4. ^ "The Colonial Secretaries, 1821-1959". New South Wales Government State Records. Retrieved 11 August 2013.