The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Giblin, Hon. William Robert

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Giblin, Hon. William Robert, sometime Premier and Puisne Judge of Tasmania, was the eldest son of William Giblin, Registrar of Deeds for the colony, and was born at Hobart on Nov. 4th, 1840. He was educated at the school of his uncle, Mr. Robert Giblin, and at the High School, Hobart. In 1864 he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court. He entered the House of Assembly as member for Hobart in 1869, and soon secured a prominent place in the House. He succeeded Mr. Dobson as Attorney-General in the Wilson Ministry on Feb. 5th, 1870, and remained in office until Nov. 4th, 1872. He distinguished himself as an ardent supporter of a railway policy, and when Parliament re fused to sanction the construction by Government of a main line of railway from Hobart to Launceston, Mr. Giblin as a last resource, introduced, and carried by a narrow majority, a Bill authorising its construction by an English company. He was again Attorney-General in the Kennerley Ministry from August 4th, 1873, to July 20th, 1876. During his term of office he carried several important legal reforms, amongst others measures amending the law of real property and abolishing primogeniture. The most useful work of the Ministry, however, was an extensive scheme for the construction of roads, bridges, and public works, which was carried in spite of determined opposition in the Legislative Council In 1877 he was defeated in a contest for Central Hobart, but shortly afterwards was elected for the northern district of Wellington, which constituency he represented until his elevation to the Bench. He was Treasurer in Mr. Fysh's first Ministry from August 1877 to March 1878, when he became Premier, but only held office for nine months. As Treasurer he was successful in placing on the London market on advantageous terms the first 4 per cent. loan issued by the colony. On the defeat of the Crowther Ministry Mr. Giblin was sent for, and formed from both sides of the House a Coalition Ministry, which held office for five years, viz., from Oct. 30th, 1879, to August 15th, 1884. In this administration he acted as Treasurer, and his first task was to meet a large deficit, which he accomplished with great ability, carrying a large scheme of new taxation, including a tax on the annual value of land and invested personal property, an excise on beer, and a revised Customs' tariff. The measure passed both Houses almost without opposition, and met with general approbation. In Dec. 1881 he exchanged the post of Treasurer for that of Attorney-General, and remained at the head of the Government until August 1884, when he finally resigned office in consequence of failing health. In politics Mr. Giblin was a staunch Liberal. He represented Tasmania at the Intercolonial Tariff Conference at Sydney in 1881, and also at the Sydney Federal Conference in 1883. At the latter Conference he took a prominent part in the debates and in shaping the Bill which resulted in the establishment of the present Federal Council of Australasia. He was one of the earliest and most earnest advocates of the federation of the Australian. On the promotion of Mr. (now Sir W. L.) Dobson to the post of Chief Justice in succession to Sir Francis Smith, Mr. Giblin was offered and accepted a puisne judgeship. During the absence of Mr. Dobson in England he was acting Chief Justice, and for a short time Administrator of the Government. He died at Hobart on Jan. 17th, 1887, in his forty-seventh year. Mr. Giblin married in 1865 Emmely Jean, eldest daughter of John Perkins, of Hobart.