Henry Bland (public servant)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sir Henry Bland
Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service
In office
Secretary of the Department of Defence
In office
Personal details
Born Henry Armand Bland
(1909-12-28)28 December 1909
Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales
Died 8 November 1997(1997-11-08) (aged 87)
Nationality Australia Australian
Spouse(s) Rosamund Nickal
(m. 1933–1997; his death)
Parents Francis Bland
Alma mater University of Sydney
Occupation Public servant

Sir Henry Armand "Harry" Bland (28 December 1909 – 8 November 1997) was a senior Australian public servant. He was Secretary of the Department of Defence between 1968 and 1970.

Life and career[edit]

Bland was born in Randwick, Sydney on 28 December 1909, the son of Francis Bland.[1] Bland's mother died from septicaemia soon after he was born.[2]

He studied law at the University of Sydney, graduating with honours, and was admitted as a solicitor of the NSW Supreme Court in 1935. In 1940 and 1941, he was official secretary to the NSW Agent-General in London, and acted as Agent-General himself for some months. On return to Australia he advised the NSW and Commonwealth governments on civil defence.[3]

Bland commenced his Australian Public Service career in 1942, as Principal Adviser to the Director-General of Manpower. In 1946 he was appointed Assistant Director of Employment in the Department of Labour and National Service.[3][4] Between 1952 and 1967, Bland was Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service.[5] In the role, he was the main architect of the Commonwealth Employment Service.[1]

Bland was appointed Secretary of the Department of Defence in 1968, but he stayed in the role just two-years, retiring in 1970.[6] During his short time as head of the department, Bland initiated a broad and intense program of administrative reform,[6] including a "rolling" five year defence program that intended to make allowances for Australian defence needs over a five-year period, expecting to shorten the waiting time for hardware by having service departments make submissions for their needs earlier than in the past.[7]

In July–December 1976, Bland was Chairman of the ABC.[1] He resigned after only five months, following clashes with both staff (who resented his appointment as what they called "Malcolm Fraser's hatchet man") and the Fraser government itself, which backed down on its intention to remove the position of Staff Commissioner on the ABC Board. The position was held by Marius Webb, who had been at loggerheads with Bland from the start.[3]


Bland was honoured as a Knight Bachelor in 1965.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Farquharson, John, "Bland, Sir Henry (Harry) (1909–1997)", Obituaries Australia (Australian National University), archived from the original on 17 September 2013 
  2. ^ Bland, Henry (1975). Sir Henry Bland interviewed by Mel Pratt for the Mel Pratt collection. Interview with Mel Pratt. 
  3. ^ a b c Farquharson, John, "Administrative guru of his day", The Canberra Times, 13 November 1997, p. 11
  4. ^ "Envoy Post to Sir Edwin Hicks". The Canberra Times. 7 December 1967. p. 1. 
  5. ^ CA 40: Department of Labour and National Service, Central Secretariat/ (by 1947 known as Central Office), National Archives of Australia, retrieved 25 April 2014 
  6. ^ a b "Sir Henry Bland tells of his unfinished business at Defence". The Canberra Times. 30 September 1970. p. 19. 
  7. ^ Juddery, Bruce (28 August 1970). "Sir Henry's legacy of dissatisfaction". The Canberra Times. p. 2. 
  8. ^ "Search Australian Honours: BLAND, Henry Armand", itsanhonour.gov.au (Australian Government), archived from the original on 25 April 2014 
Government offices
Preceded by
William Funnell
Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service
1952 – 1968
Succeeded by
Hal Cook
Preceded by
Ted Hicks
Secretary of the Department of Defence
1968 – 1970
Succeeded by
Arthur Tange
Media offices
Preceded by
Richard Downing
Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission
Succeeded by
John D Norgard