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Election trivia
The question came up the other day “How did our electorate divisions get their names?”
A quick look at Wikipedia gave the answer.
Bass
The Division of Bass is named after George Bass (1771-1803) born in Lincolnshire, England. He arrived in Sydney on HMS Reliance on 7 September 1795.
Bass set sail on his last voyage in the Venus on 5 February 1803, but he and his crew were never seen again.
His friend Flinders wrote later about the naming of Bass Strait after him. “This was no more than a just tribute to my worthy friend and companion, for the extreme dangers and fatigues he had undergone, in first entering it in a whaleboat, and to the correct judgement he had formed, from various indications, of the existence of a wide opening between Van Diemen’s Land and New South Wales.” His ultimate fate remains a mystery to this day.
Braddon
The Division of Braddon takes its name from Sir Edward Braddon, (1829-1904) who was premier of Tasmania (1894-99) and a member of the House of Representatives (1901-04). Braddon was a Tasmanian delegate to the Constitutional Conventions of the 1890s. He was also an important proponent of the federation of Australia, representing Tasmania. Whilst in parliament he drew no salary!
Earlier in his life he was in the Indian Civil Service, and during the Indian Mutiny, Braddon fought as a volunteer on behalf of the British forces. In 1872, he wrote a memoir detailing his experiences in India, entitled Life in India. He left India in 1878 and ‘retired’ to Tasmania.
Braddon is buried at Pioneer Cemetery in Forth, Tasmania. In February 2004, his grave was restored, and a lookout constructed nearby to commemorate the centenary of his death.
Clark
The Division of Clark takes its name from Andrew Inglis Clark (1848-1907). He is responsible for what is known as the ‘Hare-Clark electoral system’ which has been used statewide since 1907. Clark was an Australian founding father and the principal author of the Australian Constitution. He was Tasmania’s Attorney-General, and a judge of the Tasmanian Supreme Court.
Clark was born in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land and died aged 59 in Hobart. He was buried in Queenborough Cemetery, Sandy Bay, Hobart.
One person summed him up thus, “Clark was an Australian Jefferson, who, like the great American Republican, fought for Australian independence; an autonomous judiciary; a wider franchise and lower property qualifications; fairer electoral boundaries; checks and balances between the judicature, legislature and executive; modern, liberal universities; and a Commonwealth that was federal, independent and based on natural rights.”
Franklin
The Division of Franklin takes its name from Sir John Franklin (1786-1847). He was Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania (1837-43). This is one of the names that most people will have heard of because of his time in Tasmania. Sir John and his wife Lady Jane Franklin made a huge impression on Tasmania and travelled extensively during their six years here.
But he is known worldwide as an explorer. After serving in wars against Napoleonic France and the United States, he led two expeditions into the Canadian Arctic and through the islands of the Arctic Archipelago, in 1819 and 1825, but it is his third voyage which is still being investigated. They were trying to prove it possible to sail through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. In 1845 Franklin’s ships became icebound off King William Island in what is now Nunavut. This is where Franklin died in June 1847. The icebound ships were abandoned ten months later, and the entire crew died, from causes such as starvation, hypothermia, and scurvy. With the effect of global warming ships can now get through the Northwest Passage!
Lyons
The Division of Lyons takes its name jointly from the only Tasmanian to be elected as prime minister, Joseph Lyons (1879-1939), and his wife, Dame Enid Lyons (1897-1981).
Joseph Lyons was born in Stanley, Tasmania, and was a schoolteacher before entering politics full time. Lyons died of a heart attack in April 1939, becoming the first Australian prime minister to die in office. He is the only prime minister from Tasmania. Several years after his death, his widow Enid Lyons became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives and was also the first female cabinet member.
Marian Hearn




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