The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Bent, Hon. Thomas

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Bent, Hon. Thomas, M.L.A., Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Victoria, was born at Penrith, near Sydney, where his father was a contractor, on Dec. 17th, 1838, and came to Melbourne with his family in 1849. Having joined his father in business as a market gardener at Brighton, Vict., he was elected to the Moorabbin Shire Council in 1862, and was President in 1868. In 1871 he first achieved general notoriety by opposing Mr. (now Chief Justice) Higinbotham for the Brighton seat in the Legislative Assembly. To the amazement of every one, he was successful, and has ever since represented that electorate. Though strongly opposed to the last McCulloch Government, Mr. Bent was not a supporter of the Berry party, being indeed a consistent Freetrader. At the first dissolution in 1880 the Conservatives, under Mr. Service, secured a majority; and Mr. Bent was included in the Cabinet formed by that gentleman in March 1880, with the portfolio of Public Works. The Reform Bill of the Ministry proved distasteful to the country on the appeal to the constituencies made in June 1880, and Mr. Bent retired with his colleagues in the following August. Mr. Bent was a highly potential member of the O'Loghlen Government as Minister of Railways from July 1881 to March 1883. In Oct. 1887, on the retirement of the late Mr. Lalor, Mr. Bent was a candidate for the Speakership of the Legislative Assembly, but was defeated by Sir M. H. Davies by one vote. On the meeting of the present parliament in May 1892 Mr. Bent was again a candidate, and was unanimously elected after the claims of Mr. J. G. Duffy and Sir H. J. Wrixon had been disposed of.