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Sir Thomas Rainsford (Tom) Bavin (1874–1941)

The passing of Sir Thomas Bavin leaves the public life of this State the poorer, and will inflict with a deep sense of personal loss very many citizens of high and low degree who were his friends. He spent nearly twenty years in active politics, and earned every man's respect. He was a student all his life, yet maintained that intimate contact and sympathy, with the working life of the community which earned him, in the days when he was an industrial advocate, the tribute of election as an honorary life member of the Cooks and Stewards' Union. His cultivated mind, wide reading, experience in many walks of life, and his devotion to trout fishing made him a charming companion. But what endeared the man and will make sweet his memory to a host of friends was his humanity, the generosity which animated his intercourse with his fellow men — above all, his splendid personal courage. That most trying fight that can be put upon a man, the fight against ill-health and constant physical pain, he fought with a gallantry of spirit which was the marvel of those who knew him best, and which aroused in a wider circle, as the truth became better known, a vastly higher appreciation for the courage and tenacity with which, through a long period of strenuous political warfare, he battled against the enemy (as he saw it) of the public welfare.

For Tom Bavin the man, perhaps, the standards of public life were set in the days when the enthusiasm of many young Australians was caught fresh and in strength for national unity in Federation. The young professor in the law school of the University of Tasmania attached himself to Barton's following, and so became secretary to the first Australian Prime Minister. He served Deakin, too, in the same capacity, and Deakin's robust Australian patriotism knew a fire sorely missed in Australian politics to-day. Sir Thomas Bavin, will, however, be most widely remembered for his work in the State Parliament during the first decade after the last war. He entered Parliament at a time when conditions cried out for reform; he helped to form the Progressive Party, which later became the Country Party; led a section of it into coalition with the National Party in the hope of founding a new stability in Parliament; and then, as leader of that coalition, began his supreme struggle against the trend of the local Labour Party under Mr. Lang. He was Premier for one full Parliament, and then was rejected at the polls. Justly this should have been the reward of public favour when the Lang Government finally crashed in 1932, but by then he was so stricken down in health that he was compelled to resign the party leadership. His elevation to the Supreme Court Bench and his work in the development of local study of international affairs afforded him interests and opportunities for public service in his last years which helped him to combat the increasing onslaughts of pain and incapacity. Nobody who knew him will not mourn his passing.

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'Bavin, Sir Thomas Rainsford (Tom) (1874–1941)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Sir Thomas Bavin, 1925?

Sir Thomas Bavin, 1925?

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an22932421

Life Summary [details]


5 May, 1874
Christchurch, New Zealand


31 August, 1941 (aged 67)
Bellevue Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Cultural Heritage

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