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Dwyer-Gray, Edmund John (1870–1945)

The Treasurer (Mr Dwyer-Gray) died peacefully at his home at Hobart at 2 am today. The Premier (Mr Cosgrove) made the announcement shortly afterwards.

Mr Dwyer-Gray was discharged from hospital recently after a serious illness. He had a relapse a few days ago, however, and did not rally.

Born at Dublin on April 2, 1870, Mr Dwyer-Gray was a son of Mr Edmund Dwyer-Gray, a member of the British House of Commons, and a grandson of Sir John Gray, MP, who was a fellow-prisoner of Daniel O'Connell in Ireland's stormy days towards the middle of last century.

Visiting Hobart in 1887 during an extensive sea voyage after he had passed through college, Mr Dwyer Gray liked the place so much that he determined to return and settle in Tasmania. Before that, however, he had obtained his first political baptism. He was in Australia on a second visit in 1890, and when he got back to Dublin the Parnell crisis had arisen, and it was not long before he was playing a prominent part in Irish politics.

Coming back to Australia in 1895, he was married in Sydney two years later, and after a honeymoon trip to England and Ireland, he bought a farm and orchard property near New Norfolk. After he had been there 12 years or so, he became interested in the affairs of the old Daily Post, a Labour newspaper published at Hobart, and was instrumental in having all its shares taken over by supporters of the Labour Party.

Induced by friends to nominate as a Labour candidate for the Senate pre-selection ballot, he topped the poll, but retired from the contest when he was offered the editorship of the Daily Post.

He was editor for many years, and continued in the position when the paper was taken over by Labour Papers Ltd. and its name changed to the World.

With the demise of the World after a life of about four years, Mr Dwyer-Gray went to Sydney, where he continued his newspaper work. He returned to Hobart in 1925 to edit the newly-founded Voice, and remained its editor to the time of his death.

In 1928 he turned his attention again to active politics, and was elected as one of the Labour representatives of Denison in the House of Assembly, and was returned with a substantial majority at every subsequent election. When the late Mr A. G. Ogilvie became Premier in 1934 Mr Dwyer-Gray was appointed Treasurer, and, because of his wide knowledge of finance, was recognised on all sides as an able minister.

Mr Dwyer-Gray was elected deputy leader when the late Mr Ogilvie became leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party in 1932, and continued as Mr Ogilvie's deputy when the latter formed his ministry. He continued to hold the portfolio of Treasurer when he became Premier following Mr Ogilvie's death in June, 1939. He resigned as Premier in December of the same year, retaining the portfolio of Treasurer.

Mr Dwyer-Gray was always a strong advocate of Tasmania's rights under Federation, and played a prominent part in the presentation of claims for special consideration for the State which were submitted to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. He was also a staunch protagonist of the State's interests at meetings of the Loan Council, and his success at the meeting in June, 1934, was thought to have played a big part in his election to the leadership of the Government.

His inclination to combine journalism with politics probably was inherent, for his father, as well as having been a prominent member of the Parnell Party in the House of Commons, had been proprietor and editor of the Dublin Freeman's Journal. During the troublous Sinn Fein days in Ireland, Mr Dwyer-Gray formed a Tasmanian branch of the Self-Determination for Ireland League in Hobart, and was its vice-president.

He was also president of the Tasmanian section of the United Nations Association, vice-president of the Tasmania district of the Australian Journalists' Association, president of the State branch of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, and the Tasmanian group of the World Association for Adult Education, and a member of the State executive of the Australian Labour Party. For several years he was treasurer of the State ALP, and one of the Tasmanian delegates to the Federal conference.

His elaborate financial statements and his method of dealing with his voluminous budgets achieved for him a degree of notoriety which he appreciated as much as anyone, and among the public tributes of which he was proudest was a statement by the chairman of the Grants Commission praising his methods as Treasurer.

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'Dwyer-Gray, Edmund John (1870–1945)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/dwyer-gray-edmund-john-6068/text24374, accessed 25 November 2017.

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