Tom Lewis (Australian politician)

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The Honourable
Tom Lewis
AO
Thomas Lewis.gif
33rd Premier of New South Wales
In office
3 January 1975 – 23 January 1976
Monarch Elizabeth II
Deputy Sir Charles Cutler
Leon Punch
Preceded by Sir Robert Askin
Succeeded by Sir Eric Willis
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Wollondilly
In office
26 October 1957 – 7 September 1978
Preceded by Blake Pelly
Succeeded by Bill Knott
Personal details
Born (1922-01-23) 23 January 1922 (age 92)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Relations Essington Lewis (uncle)
Sandy Lewis (brother)
Military service
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1941–1946
Rank Lieutenant
Unit 1st Armoured Division
2/3rd Commando Squadron
Battles/wars World War II

Thomas Lancelot (Tom) Lewis AO (born 23 January 1922) is a former New South Wales politician, Premier of New South Wales and Minister in the cabinets of Sir Robert Askin and Sir Eric Willis. He became Premier following Askin's retirement from politics and held the position until he was replaced by Willis in a party vote. Lewis was first elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the Electoral district of Wollondilly for the Liberal Party of Australia from 1957 until his resignation in 1978.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Adelaide and educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide, from 1931 to 1940. Subsequently he managed the property of his uncle, Essington Lewis, Managing Director of BHP and Director-General of Munitions during World War II. He was a member of the Australian Imperial Force from 1940 to 1946 and served in Sydney, Celebes, Java and Borneo as a lieutenant. He was on the staff of the Embassy of Australia, Washington, D.C., from 1946 to 1951.

Early career[edit]

Lewis was elected as the member for Wollondilly representing the Liberal Party of Australia in 1957. When the Askin Government came to power in 1965, Lewis was given relatively junior portfolios of Lands and Mines. As lands minister he was responsible for setting up the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1967. In 1970, he set up the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife as an independent not-for-profit organisation, in order to be the fundraising arm of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. In 1972, Tourism was added to his ministerial responsibilities when Eric Willis moved to Education.

Premier[edit]

Late in 1974, Askin announced his resignation and Lewis was chosen as leader over Willis and Justice Minister John Maddison. He was sworn in on as Premier on 3 January 1975. He was elected during an uneasy time for the Liberal government, being engaged in almost daily warfare with the Whitlam Labor Government in Canberra, most notably over the Medibank health care scheme, to which New South Wales was the last state to sign.[2]

The defining moment of the Lewis government was the decision taken by Lewis to break with convention when Whitlam appointed his Attorney-General, Lionel Murphy, a Senator from New South Wales, to the High Court of Australia. Lewis refused to appoint a replacement Senator of the same party; instead appointing the 72-year-old Mayor of Albury, Cleaver Bunton. This triggered immediate outrage, not only from the Labor Party but also the executive of the Liberal party.[2]

By the end of 1975, Lewis' image was badly damaged and he soon lost the confidence of his party. Sentiment was growing in favour of replacing him with Sir Eric Willis. At a caucus meeting on 20 January 1976, parliamentary backbencher Neil Pickard called a spill motion, which was carried 22 votes to 11. Lewis opted not to try to regain his post, leaving Willis to take the leadership unopposed. Lewis's term as Premier came to an end on 23 January 1976, his 54th birthday. Lewis is the only non-elected non-Labor premier who has not taken the Coalition into an election. [3]

Later life[edit]

Lewis served as Willis's Minister for Local Government until May 1976, when the Liberal Government was narrowly defeated by the Australian Labor Party.[1] In opposition Lewis did not hold any position within the Shadow Caninet and later resigned from Parliament on 7 September 1978, the vacancy becoming one of the justifications for calling the election for 7 October 1978. At the election, his seat fell to the Labor candidate, Bill Knott.[2] On his departure from parliament, he was permitted by Queen Elizabeth II, on the Governor's recommendation, to continue to use the title "The Honourable".[4]

He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia on 26 January 2000 "For service to the Parliament of New South Wales, to the environment as the founder of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales, and to the community".[5] On 1 January 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Hon. Thomas Lancelot Lewis (1922 - )". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Federation Press, The Premiers of New South Wales 1856–2005 – Volume 2, 1901–2005 (Syd, 2005)pg 387–399
  3. ^ Hancock, Ian (2007). The Liberals: The NSW Division 1945-2000. Sydney: Federation Press. pg 155. ISBN 978-1-86287-659-0. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 46930. p. 8115. 8 June 1976. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  5. ^ Officer of the Order of Australia, AO, 26 January 2000, itsanhonour.gov.au
  6. ^ Centenary Medal, 1 January 2001, itsanhonour.gov.au
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Blake Pelly
Member for Wollondilly
1957 – 1978
Succeeded by
Bill Knott
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Compton
Minister for Lands
1965 – 1975
Succeeded by
Milton Morris
Preceded by
James Simpson
Minister for Mines
1965 – 1967
Succeeded by
Wallace Fife
Preceded by
Eric Willis
as Minister for Tourism and Sport
Minister for Tourism
1972 – 1975
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Cutler
Preceded by
Sir Robert Askin
Premier of New South Wales
1975 – 1976
Succeeded by
Sir Eric Willis
Treasurer of New South Wales
1975 – 1976
Preceded by
Col Fisher
Minister for Local Government
1976
Succeeded by
Henry Jensen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Askin
Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
1975 – 1976
Succeeded by
Sir Eric Willis