History of West Australia/David James Cook Goodsir

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David James Cook Goodsir HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Greenham & Evans.

PROTECTION leads to various forms of deception, which sometimes demand the keenest powers of observation to detect. Ingenious efforts are attempted to evade the tariff and betray the searching survey of the examiners. Such roguery and trickery imperatively demand inspectors of long experience and skill, who can probe and expose the stealthy subterfuges of the fraudulent.

This colony has been fortunate in securing the able services of Mr. Goodsir, whose forty years' experience in the Victorian Customs Department sufficiently bespeak his empirical skill and competency. His reputation was already securely established ere he arrived in Western Australia, but his valuable co-operation in systematising and perfecting the details of the Customs Department has won him fresh laurels in this new progressive colony. A man is most appreciated where he is most needed.

Mr. Goodsir was born at La Perouse, near Sydney, in 1833. This is the historic spot on which the celebrated Captain Cook first landed in Australia, and which is endeared to the inhabitants of that district by the hallowed regard with which they hold the redoubtable explorer and voyager. Mr. Goodsir was the first white child born in that part of the colony, and out of respect to the ever-green memory of the great Captain Cook, paternal neighbours and friends induced his father to call his son Cook, in honour of the pioneer founder of their settlement. Mr. Goodsir was accordingly accredited with the baptismal prœnomen of Cook. Mr. Goodsir's father was a coastguard pilot in these early days of La Perouse, but shortly after the birth of his son he migrated, in 1841, to Victoria, then known as the Port Phillip Settlement, and his son was educated in the infantile town of Melbourne.

On leaving school Mr. Goodsir engaged in various kinds of mercantile pursuits. In those pioneering days a man had to possess a catholic and versatile taste ere he could either make headway or aspire to prosperity. After spending a few years of his commercial life in this ubiquitous manner, he resolved to seek for something more permanent and secure. In 1852 he was successful in obtaining an appointment in the Customs Department, and from that day till the hour of retirement he was unintermittingly engaged in the active services of officialdom. Promotion in the Government service then required long years of weary patience and diligent exercise to rise in the ranks of a department. Mr. Goodsir gained steady promotion, till at last he was honoured with the enviable position of Deputy-Collector of Customs. For many years Mr. Goodsir discharged the duties of this arduous post, and when he retired from the service in 1893, after forty-two years of long and faithful attention, he was made the recipient of happy tokens of esteem and appreciation. His career was in every way exemplary.

In January, 1894, Mr. Goodsir was invited by the Western Australian Government to accept a high position in the Customs Department of the colony. He accepted the proffered post, and arrived in Western Australia in the following month. He was appointed Chief Landing Surveyor of the Customs. Since his introduction to his new sphere, the importance of the department has been immeasurably increased. Customs duties have trebled in value, and the amount of official work to be done has gone beyond the limits of comparison with preceding years. On Mr. Mason obtaining leave of absence to visit England, Mr. Goodsir was appointed Acting Collector of Customs. A short time ago he was, in consideration of his influential standing, created a Justice of the Peace. Mr. Goodsir has accorded completely with Carlyle's ardent ideas of work. His life has been one long connected series of labour, honestly joined by links of dutiful devotion. His virtues have raised him to the apex of his calling, and conferred on him the good wishes of superiors and equals. Throughout his long period of service he has held the respect of those with who he was connected.